August 8, 2022
'We're going to try our best to get to the top eight in the FIBA Asia," said Gilas Pilipinas coach Chot Reyes

MANILA, Philippines – Gilas Pilipinas is focusing on the bigger picture.

Head coach Chot Reyes wants to temper expectations ahead of the FIBA Asia Cup as the national team plunges back to action in the continental showpiece set to tip off in Indonesia on Tuesday, July 12.

While the intention is to compete, Reyes said the main goal in the Asia Cup is to assess the progress the national squad has made in preparation for the FIBA World Cup next year.

“We just want to manage expectations. We’re going to try our best to get to the top eight in the FIBA Asia,” said Reyes.

“But the objective really is to take a look at the players that we have on this team and see and look at their continued development and continue our process of finding out what it is going to take to make sure that we have the best team for [the] 2023 [World Cup].”

PBA big man Poy Erram and Japan B. League stars Kiefer Ravena, Thirdy Ravena, and Ray Parks provide veteran presence to the young national team that is composed of several players in their early 20s.

Among the youngest in the squad are Francis Lopez (19), Geo Chiu and Kevin Quiambao (21), RJ Abarrientos (22), and SJ Belangel (23).

The first order of business for the Philippines as it starts its campaign in Group D is to beat Lebanon in their July 13 clash.

“When we arrive there, there is a huge, huge task ahead of us. We’re in a very tough group,” said Reyes.

“Lebanon is playing the best I’ve seen in recent years. Their team is really stacked. They’re playing a very high level of basketball. It will take our best to just be able to compete with that team.”

After Lebanon, familiar foes India and New Zealand – which are in the same group as the Philippines in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers – await on July 15 and 17, respectively.

“We know how tough New Zealand is. India as you saw is no pushover as well.”

To have a shot at a top-eight finish, Gilas Pilipinas needs to at least place third in its group, with the top team advancing directly to the quarterfinals and the next two best squads moving on to the qualification stage. – Rappler.com

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